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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Americans by Robert Frank

I finally got myself to the Robert Frank show at the Metropolitan Museum (The Americans), and if you haven’t seen it—GO! If you have, see it again. I know I'm late on this, but I was really wowed by the show. What I never realized was the incredible care and time Frank gave to editing the images he chose, juxtaposing to create context and sub context for the viewer to contemplate.

His intent was to “compare disparate objects with thematic ties,” according to the exhibit statement, and he did that brilliantly, beginning with early photographs before his seminal book that put a photo of radio tubes across from a photo of musicians. By juxtaposing people with objects, he created a new way of thinking about their relationship.

“I am always looking outside, trying to look inside, trying to say something that is true. But maybe nothing is really true. Except what’s out there. And what’s out there is constantly changing.”
--Robert Frank, 1985.

Frank used the flag to essentially separate parts of the book, and this was a tool to create categories. Used quietly, yet effectively, we cannot see the faces, and so it is the abstract of the symbol of America that we see. In the way he put images together, he created a relationship between them that was not always readily apparent. Yet the longer you look at the images, the more you see and understand.

was not just photographing America, he was commenting on race, class, and culture. He wanted to allude to the way in which Americans communicate with each other and with the larger culture. This amazing book is thoughtful, deep beyond the surface, and exciting for the layers you can peel back to discover a more caustic comment on this country.

The photo of Detroit assembly-line workers above was across from this photo of back room politicians at a Chicago convention, commenting on class and the distance between men working side by side. Contrast that with the physical closeness of the power brokers. The physical comfort of the politicians versus the coldness between the workers. One group is on the clock, one has all the time in the world.

The thought that went into culling thousands upon thousands of images into 83 and putting them into a book is something few photographers seem to think deeply about. Too often I think a book becomes just a place to showcase a number of images that may or may not be related, but are frequently related only by subject. The time Frank took to edit and sequence his work, to THINK about his work, his intent, and his audience needs to be studied and celebrated.

With The Americans, Frank examined his work by printing out images and playing with their order. He took the time to discover which images HAD TO be together. And by doing this, Frank created a body of work which still surprises and educates.

How many photographers can really say the same?

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Review of FPS Fest

If you didn't make it to FPS Fest in Williamsburg Tuesday night, you missed a great bunch of people and a terrific show of photographers' films.

The evening began with Shinichi Maruyama showing a short work reel full of dripping, dropping, and splashing liquid that was hypnotic, yet calming. It made me think about how difficult it is to shoot a perfect rush of liquid.

Alexx Henry's "Living Art," was a behind-the-scenes look at a shoot of Ironman Chris Lieto for Outside Magazine. What I liked best was the discussion of the future ways in which printed media will incorporate moving image. It was totally fascinating to me and I'm still thinking about that.

Noah Webb showed "A Thousand Bees," assembled from 4,500 still images. It was completely different from all the other work, inventive and full of vibrancy. It was like a collage come to life.

Andrew Hetherington
brought a great dose of humor with his short "Meet The Hetheringtons,"a verbal/visual back-and-forth between Andrew and Tim Hetherington (no relation). It just goes to show that an idea is the most important element you can bring to a project. It's not always about crews and equipment. Kudos to him for that.

"Sleeping Soldiers," Tim Hetherington's multi-media piece followed, incorporating a triptych to juxtapose sleeping soldiers with the battlefield, in this case Afghanistan, where Tim was embedded with a U.S. platoon.
At times it was as if we could see the dreams of the soldiers, as landscape blew across their sleeping bodies, until we were shocked awake by a frantic, stunned soldiers' pain. It was beautiful, inventive and powerful.

I introduced the trailer of Louie Psihoyos' "The Cove" and will say again: See this documentary! You can read my two part interview with Louie Psihoyos here.

There was more humor from Bob Scott and his camera review. Clever, funny and a great use of short film with numerous possibilities.

It was distressing to me that two of the women presenting films, KT Auleta and Candace Meyer were the only ones who interjected sex into their work. I am disappointed that all they offered up was that Madonna-influenced "if I treat myself as a sex object then I'm the one with the power" bullshit. Where are the strong, interesting, accomplished women? Where is the content with real value, instead of portraits of girl-women in baby clothes?

All in all, congratulations to Dripbook, Resource Magazine and all the others who made this possible and presented something that speaks to the future, and more creative possibilities for photographers. Maybe it's Brooklyn, but I felt like this was the opening of a dialogue that will continue for those creative people who are moving forward with the desire to make themselves heard.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Next Week's Important Events

Monday, November 16

ASMP presents "Presenting Your Work to the Fine Art Community"a Mary Virginia Swanson Lecture and Food Drive to be held at Studio 385
In this lecture, marketing consultant/educator Mary Virginia Swanson provides an overview of the fine art market for photographers.

Updated frequently, this lecture is a must for all photographers considering exploring the fine art market and provides current insights on marketing and details of upcoming deadlines and events.

During this presentation, Mary Virginia Swanson will provide insights into the most efficient and effective avenues for introducing your work to industry professionals towards presenting your work in the collectible fine art market.

She will discuss the strategies surrounding submitting work to national and international juried exhibitions and portfolio review events such as FotoFest, Photolucida and European festivals. Art fairs such as AIPAD and Photo LA will be discussed from the standpoint of assessing market trends and helping artists determine which dealers will be most appropriate for their work.

Swanson will also cover the professional practices necessary to effectively present your photographs in the market, as well as sharing examples of effective self-promotion materials in print and on-line formats.

Handouts with related information will be shared with participants.

ASMP members: FREE but are encouraged to bring a food donation
Non-ASMP members: $20 or $15 with a food donation
Students with I.D.: $5 or free with food donation

The food will be delivered to one of the needy food pantries in NYC. Please bring non-perishable food!

Studio 385
385 Broadway—bet. White & Walker
New York City
6:30 - 9:30pm

Register here

Tuesday, November 17

FPS Fest
, presented by Dripbook, Resource Magazine, and ROOT Capture is a film screening event that explores the transition from still photography to motion.
Dripbook is announcing support of HD video across Dripbook’s promotional platform, continuing a leading-edge commitment to advanced promotion for today’s creative professionals.

The work of Andrew Hetherington, Vince Laforet, Philip Bloom, Alexx Henry, Noah Webb, Amber Gray, Bob Scott, Candace Meyer, F Scott Schafer, KT Auleta, Alex Buono and Louie Psihoyos will be shown.

ROOT Capture provides premier digital services for Drive In, TREC, & ROOT Brooklyn by working closely with photographers and DP’s to create customized, versatile still/motion capture packages for both location & studio.
Resource Magazine presents RETV, an online video magazine presenting photo and video industry content to help creative professionals bridge the gap between stills and motion technology.

Root Brooklyn
131 North 14th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Doors open at 6pm
$5 entry fee. Beer and popcorn will be served.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Next Week's Events

I was hoping to write a wrap up of PhotoPlus Expo, but found I couldn't sum it up at all. I enjoyed the seminars I went to, noticed fewer exhibitors, and wondered about the people who attended: were they mostly from out of town or New York?
Now that it's over, there are some cool events to attend and look forward to next week.

Monday November 9

Bill Cramer, CEO of Wonderful Machine will be speaking at the Apple Store as part of the ImageMakers Series. He'll be talking about branding and marketing for photographers, and a little about his own photography and Wonderful Machine.
The event is at 103 Prince St. (between Mercer & Greene), from 6:30 - 8:00 pm and is free, though seating is limited.
There's more info here

And be sure to join everyone at the post-lecture social at The Cupping Room, 359 W. Broadway (between Broome & Grand) for a cash bar and some appetizers.

Tuesday, November 10

Aperture Gallery is presenting Michael Wolf: The Transparent City and Barbara Crane: Private Views, an exhibit showing the city of Chicago from different vantage points and periods of history.
There will be a book signing and artists talk with Michael Wolf on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 6:30pm. Barbara Crane will be doning the same on Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 6:30pm, and the opening of the exhibit is Wednesday, Nov. 12 from 6:00 - 8:00pm.
Aperture Gallery
547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor
Between 10th and 11th Avenues

ASMP NE Chapter presents:
An Evening with Eugene Richards
Mass Bay Community College
Wellesley Hills
50 Oakland St.
Wellesley Hills, MA
Register here

Wednesday, November 11

ADHESIVE NYC: Sticking Creatives Together is having a soiree at:
Sweet & Vicious
5 Spring St (Between Elizabeth Street and Bowery)
6:30pm - ???

Thursday, November 12

An Evening with Jay Maisel
Yale University is presenting an evening with this world-class photographer, starting at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:30)at Linsly-Chittenden Hall Rm 102, 63 High St., New Haven, CT
$15 ASMP members & students, $25 non-members
Register here
They will be giving away door prizes from ThinkTank, Image Rights, and O'Reilly Media. The event is sponsored by Epson.

And rounding out the week:

Friday, November 13

SLIDELUCK POTSHOW XIV at The Aperture Foundation in Chelsea and will be co-curated by Lesley Martin, Aperture's book publisher. The theme of the fourteenth show in New York City is INSIDE OUT. For this show, all guests will need to purchase $10 tickets support of both SLPS and The Aperture Foundation. Due to spatial limitations, this event will be considerably more intimate than recent NYC Slidelucks. If you are serious about securing a spot for this show, we invite you to purchase your tickets immediately!
The Aperture Foundation
547 W. 27th St, 4th Floor
7pm Potluck | 9pm Slideshow

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